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It was jet figher could not flight, now is boat cannot float

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Poor fishing folk get boats that don’t float

Michael Kaung | January 26, 2011

Fishermen, who rely on Sabah government-sponsored boats, are being shortchanged.

TAWAU: A scandal is looming over the distribution of unseaworthy boats to poor traditional fishermen living on Sebatik Island.

Sebatik assemblyman Abdul Muis Picho is worried that the funds allocated to build and supply “proper” boats were misused which explains the poor quality of the vessels.

“We find many of the boats given to the fishermen broke quite easily… there are many that cannot be used and are stranded on Sebatik Island,” he said yesterday.

He wants the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to step in and find out how much of the allocation was actually used to build boats.

He said that MACC should investigate because fishermen wanted to know if the funds meant for building the boats had been misappropriated.

The government allocation for fishing boats meant for the local fishermen, most of whom are still living in poverty, is being handled by the Tawau Municipal Council (TMC).

Muis said that TMC officers entrusted with the task must answer for the poor quality of the boats.

Review award system

Muis also called for a review of the system of deciding who the beneficiaries are. Currently, the officers act alone in determining the list of aid to beneficaries in Sebatik.

He said that though he is the constituency’s elected representative, he had never been called to discuss the type of government assistance for his constituents.

“I’m really upset about this. We were never called for a meeting to decide on government aid – whether it is for the implementation of Hardcore Poor Housing Projects (PPRT), or dstribution of boats or engines. This has happened for years,” he claimed.

Muis contended that there were many recipients of the boat aid programme who were repeatedly given aid several times while other deserving ones did not receive any assistance.

He said his constituents blamed him for the situation although the list of recipients was determined by a TMC officer

“I have raised the matter several times but it seems my opinion is not important,” he said.

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